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An Exposition of Psalm 62

Synthesis and Outline of Psalm 62 Summary: Psalm 62 states an unshakable faith in Almighty God in which the psalmist finds himself the recipient of mistreatment by enemies but his resolve is, nevertheless, unshaken. More than a mere personal statement of faith, Psalm 62 encourages the entire community of faith to exalt in the Lord as the Refuge and Rock of those who trust in the Lord to find their rest. Trusting in humanity or ones position in society is not enough for the psalmist to encourage faith. His hope, and that of the entire community of faith, is found in the power and unfailing love of the Great King, the Lord Almighty. Outline: I. Finding ones rest in God (62:1-6) David opens Psalm 62 with the statement of faith that his rest is found only in the Lord because his salvation comes only from Him. A. Salvation comes from God: It is in God the psalmist finds salvation as the Rock and Fortress in whom I will never be shaken(62:1-2). B. The need for rest from enemies: In spite of a solid faith in the firm foundation of the Lord, David finds himself surrounded by those who wish for his demise (62:3-4). C. Salvation comes from God: His enemies remind David of the need and blessing of salvation from them; therefore, he reasserts, yes, my soul finds rest (62:5-6). II. Finding ones refuge in God (62:7-8) David turns his attention to the greater community of faith observing his actions in light of the persecution he suffers. Here the Psalmist encourages the faithful to trust him at all times. A. God provides protection: The Lord is the refuge for those who are His and the Lord alone provides protection and security (62:7). B. God hears the concerns of His people: The refuge one finds in the Lord is made secure because the Lord is attentive to the concerns of His people; therefore, he can be trusted at all times (62:8). III. Finding ones rest in the power of God (62:9-12) The mighty power of God is cause for trust because His power and protection far outweigh the insignificance of humanity. To trust in human position or power is an exercise in futility. A. Humans and their ingenuity are insignificant compared to God: In spite of bearing the image of God Himself, humans are insignificant compared to the greatness of power of the Great King (62:9-10). B. God has all power, love, and reward: The Lords steadfast love brings with it the reward for the faithful through His power (62:11-12).

Introduction Joining Psalms 11,16, and 23, Psalm 62 is classified as a psalm of confidence. Unlike the psalms of thanksgiving, these psalms do not always assume the crisis from which the psalmist is praying for deliverance has passed. In presenting the lament, Psalm 62 is more reflective than the psalms of lament or thanksgiving and is more reserved than the psalms of imprecation.1 Psalm 62 faithfully represents its classification by calling God my rock, my salvation, and my fortress (verse six).2 Furthermore, the author, David, exhorts the congregation to trust in him...pour out your hearts...for God is our refuge (verse eight). The closing verses of Psalm 62 further validate this classification stating that power and love is the Lords and He rewards everyone according to what they have done (verse twelve). A difficulty of this genre as a whole is the tendency towards obscurity in identification of the crisis prompting the occasion for writing. Even this Psalm is not overtly specific although the lament expressed in verses three and four state the concern over those wishing for the psalmists demise. Some scholars suggest the backdrop of this psalm is Absaloms rebellion, but in spite of its specific lament, Psalm 62 does not reveal the exact circumstances in the life of David that inspired the psalm.3 The heading indicates David, to whom many of the Psalms are attributed, as the author and there is no compelling or convincing reason to doubt his authorship. His message is the absolute trust the Lord inspires and has earned. Although it may be easy to find rest in station of

Walter Brueggemann, The Message of the Psalms, Augsburg OT Series (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1984),

152. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from the New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011). Willem A. VanGemeren, The Expositors Bible Commentary, Volume 5: Psalms, Revised Edition, Frank E. Gaebelein, ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), 483.
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life or wealth, King David encourages his soul and the community of the redeemed to find salvation and deliverance in God alone. The Heading of Psalm 62 In many ways, the heading of Psalm 62 is a formula presented throughout the Psalms. In this specific Psalm, as in several others, there are additions demanding treatment. In Psalm 62, there is an addition of for Jeduthun. Along with Psalms 39 and 77, there are three occurrences of this heading.Many conclude this is the same Jeduthun appointed in 1 Chronicles 16:41-42 as one of the choir directors. There are others, however, who translate the Hebrew word not as a name but as a term meaning confession. To this group of scholars, this term is a description of the psalm itself or a psalm tune and not a reference to a specific person.4 Whether or not this minority view is correct or not, Psalm 62had a function in the corporate worship of Israel as their declaration of trust.5 Finding Ones Rest in God (62:1-6) Salvation Comes from God (62:1-2) Opening the inclusio of verses one and two with verses five or six, the need for salvation is apparent in the life of the psalmist as he is one whose demise is sought by his enemies. With the threat of peoples evil actions looming before him, David has no other option but expression of trust in the salvation coming from God alone.6The inspiration of the psalmist to find rest in God is directly proportional to his evaluation of the greatness of God. Because of the Lords attributes, He is able to provide the salvation needed. In the mind of the writer, salvation was not
Robert G. Bratcher and William David Reyburn, A Translator's Handbook on the Book of Psalms, Helps for translators (New York: United Bible Societies, 1991), 373. This is drawn from the text of Psalm 62 itself as it addresses you people in verse eight and shifts into the second person. Marvin E. Tate, vol. 20, Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 51-100, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), 120.
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exclusive to a deliverance from those seeking his demise. Salvation included the Lords vengeance on those attacking His people,but it also extended to the maintenance of the blessings of covenantal fellowship with Him. In terms of Old Testament theology, salvation is an allinclusive understanding of a total relationship with God.7 Reiterated by Davids use of the Hebrew word ak, translated truly in verses one and two, he establisheshis passionate dedicationtothe rest found in God.This emphasis continues throughout the psalm as a demonstration of Davids absolute certainly in the statements he is making.8In Hebrew, ak, begins these sentences in which they are used and provides not only structure to the Psalm but also underscores the absoluteness of the thoughts following this adverb.9 These are the statements of one whose trust has been refined through exercising it in the faithfulness of God. Davids specific experience with God has taught him this level of confidence and trust.10It is this confidence that moves David to conclude in verse two, I will never be shaken. In spite of the outward appearances (presented in verses three and four), the psalmists faith rises to a new height in believing the promise of God...11 The Need for Rest from Enemies (62:3-4) In spite of the insistence of some scholars to insist these verses refer to Absalom, the text does not specify the enemies. The issue that is specified is the assault David is enduring. There are two problematic verbs in the first part of verse three. The Hebrew verb translated
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VanGemeren, 484. Derek Kidner, Psalms 1-72, Tyndale OT Commentaries 14a(Downers Grove, Ill: IVP, 1973), 239.

C. Hassell Bullock, Encountering the Book of Psalms: A Literary and Theological Introduction (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2001), 173
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Brueggemann, 152. VanGemeren, 484.

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assault is unique as it only occurs here in Psalm 62:3. The second problematic verb is translated throw and usually means murder or slay. For exegeting the passage, however, the question is rhetorical although the meaning is figurative and refers to their desire to bring down the king.12 The rhetorical question asked by David in verse three is answered in verse four. Beginning with the Hebrew wordak, the psalmistdemonstrates his insistence on the reality of the statements that follow. The enemies of the psalmist attack when he is at his weakest and desire to give the last push to this tottering fence.Even in his weakness, David is the king of Israel and occupies a lofty place. Nevertheless, these people are ruthless and have no respect for the status, dignity, or position of the king whom they attack. Their goal is to attack the weakened walls of Davids spirit until he is destroyed.13 The assault of his enemies will notresult in physical murder; it is verbal assassination. Davids reputation and honor is the target of their attack as they delight in lies (verse four). In this battle of lies and deceit, Davids enemies speak blessing but their hearts speak cursing (verse four).14 Davids use of the Hebrew word translated delight indicates their pleasure and favor with themselves in this character attack.15They are not accidentally causing this to happen, but they haveset their wills against him.

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Bratcher and Reyburn, 542. Tate, 121. Gerald H. Wilson, Psalms, vol. 1 NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002),879.

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Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, electronic ed. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 2000), 953a. Subsequent citations are abbreviated BDB.

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Salvation Comes from God (62:5-6) Closing the inclusio started in verses one and two, David restates the pointlessness of his enemys assaults on him. His hope remains in God. Although the NIV restates the sentences poetically, these verses are nearly exact quotations of verses one and two with the exception of hope instead of salvation and never replaces not. In using the word hope, David is not stating a mere wish but waits in a confident trust of deliverance by the Lord.16 His hope is in the Warrior of Israel to rise to his defense and provide deliverance and salvation. The faith demonstrated by the psalmist is based in Gods promise of provision and protection. This is why David can write, I will not be shaken (verse six). With this certainly of hope in God, David stands encouraged. Finding Ones Refuge in God (62:7-8) God Provides Protection (62:7) Turning from the lamentation regarding his enemies, David brings his attention singularly to God. Although he uses similar words and expressions, the psalmist provides a new emphasis on the Lord. It is God alone Who is the refuge and rock of Davids honor. It would not be enough, in the psalmists mind, to be protected from physical harm only to lose his good name. Davids honor is dependent on God. By using the word honor, David is speaking of more than just his reputation but also his place of authority and position. In his position as king, he was given a place of honor. This place of honor was his right as the anointed king of Israel. This is why the Lords provision for protection of this honor was so necessary. 17It would not be the psalmists personal aptitude nor might protecting his honor or reputation. Instead, God is the

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BDB, 876a. Bratcher and Reyburn, 543.

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restorer and protector of the benefits of the covenant David enjoys with God. By extension, the restoration of Davids honor is also the restoration of the nations honor.18 Furthermore, verse seven links to verse six and carries the momentum stated in finding his hope in the Lord and the resolve to be unshaken. In verse seven, David reaffirms his absolute dependence on the Lord. It is as true for David as anyone: everything which makes a person important and strong depends upon Gods favor and help.19 Verse seven, therefore, is a statement of faith based on the inclusio above affirming the power of God and the ultimate futility of the enemies attacks. God Hears the Concerns of His People (62:8) This verse is a turning point in the psalms as Davids attention shifts from personal testimony to teaching the congregation of worshippers lessons in trusting God. The psalmist tells the hearers to demonstrate trust in the Lord at all times. Davids personal testimony is used as a source of inspiration for the covenant people of God. The deliverance God provided David was the same deliverance offered to all of them. The God who is Davids refuge, the psalmist asserts, is our refuge. In Gods concern for His people, Davids example of faithful trust in God is the impetus for the assemblys trust. In the same way,God listened to Davids prayers for protection and proved Himself a trustworthy Savior. Consequently, He listens to all of His people bound to Him in covenant. Their concerns move His heart. They can trust in him at all times because God hears their hearts being poured out to Him.20

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Kidner, 249. Tate, 121. Wilson, 880.

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The shift in thought from self-exhortation to teaching the congregation of the redeemed prepares the listener for the lessons of wisdom that follow in the final section of Psalm 62. These fellow worshippers can tell God the secrets of their hearts not only because He already knows them but also because He is their only hope for salvation. FindingOnes Rest in the Power of God (62:9-12) Humans and Their Ingenuity are Insignificant Compared to God (62:9-10) Common to wisdom literature of the Bible and other Near Eastern cultures, verses nine and ten reassure the congregation of the necessity to trust in God by presenting the futility of human effort. In their insignificance, humanity is an unreliable source of hope and inspiration. Whether they are lowborn or highborn, they are nothing (verse nine).21 The final ak, translated surely is in verse nine and signifies the absoluteness of Davids statements about humanity. Station in life, whether more or less important in the eyes of society, only amounts to a breath (verse nine). The limited influence and power of human beings results in an unwise source to find inspiration or hope.22 Most modern translations attempt to convey the different Hebrew words by the use of the concept of important people verses less important people. The Hebrew text does use different words, but it is also conceivable that David used different words to provide variety. The psalmist could have been making parallel statements about humanity. VanGemeren offers an alternative translation of humanity is but a breath; humanity is but a lie.23 If the implication of differing status is the intended meaning of the words and phrase, then it is consistent with other cultures

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VanGemeren, 486. Tate, 121-122. VanGemeren, 486.

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expressions for those of greater and lesser influence. David could, in essence, be employing a euphemism for the wealthy and the poor.24 Regardless of the specific meanings of the words, the point of verse nine is clear: the totality of human status means nothing when weighed against the Warrior of Israel. Furthermore, any financial means gained dishonestly still would have no value in offering protection against ones enemies. Although the temptation to manipulate situations in ones favor is always present, the psalmist asserts the ineffectiveness of such practices. Even though your riches increase, David states in verse ten, hope in ones ingenuity of position or manipulation of circumstances will not be enough to provide the shelter and refuge David finds in God.25 In telling the congregation, do not set your heart on them in verse ten, the psalmist is not telling them they have no reason to fear the evil brought against them byhumans. He is reiterating the point that there is no reason to find hope in them for salvation and protection.26 Ultimately, the wealth or position of other humans holds no power over the redeemed as their hope is firmly rooted in the promises and faithfulness of God. God has all Power, Love, and Reward (62:11-12) The pattern of one thing...two things is the first occurrence of parallelism involving numbers in this psalm. Just as in any type of parallelism, the second line is intended to increase the significance of the first line. When this numeral parallelism is used, the increase of significance is in using a higher number. In the case of Psalm 62:11, this increase of significance

Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary : Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), Ps 62:9.
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Wilson, 880-881. Kidner, 241.

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is the psalmists use of one thing followed by two things. Some commentators explain its use as a way of making the subsequent statements intensifications of the first.27 As applied specifically to Psalm 62, this numeral parallelism speaks of Gods single revelation to David and his expression of this message in two parts. The two applications of this single message intensify the message itself. The message David received summarizes the psalm: power belongs to you, God (verse 11). It is also possible that this parallelism with the numbers one and two serves as a summary of the two parts of the psalm, which provides a powerful conclusion.28 David has already used many adjectives of the Lords power. He has called God a rock (verses two, six, and seven), fortress (verses two and six), and refuge (verses seven and eight). This power is expressed through two concepts presented in verse twelve: with the Lord is unfailing love and God rewards everyone according to what they have done. The Lords love is the Hebrew word hesed. This word carries the idea of goodness and kindness and is the loving expression of His power.29 Gods love displays itself to his people in His faithfulness to be their rock, fortress, and refuge. To His people, Gods love is a comfort.30 At the same time, the Lords power is revealed as a judge who will give a desired reward to the faithful while those who are evil will also receive the reward according to what they have done. This is not an outright statement of final judgment, although there are overtones of that

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Bratcher and Reyburn, 545. Tate, 122. BDB, 338b. VanGemeren, 487.

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concept. Instead, the psalmist focuses on the steadfastness of the Lord in juxtaposition to those who are treating the faithful with evil.31 Theological Message The suffering of the faithful at the assault of the unfaithful is a recurring theme throughout Scripture. The greater Son of David, Jesus, was not immune to the effects of the sin of others against Him. Psalm 62, however, does not present the struggle with this as much as finding a place of solitude in the faithfulness of God.32 This rest, as Psalm 62 calls it, involves the trust flowing from a life lived through the difficulties and the celebrations. Too often, suffering is seen as punishment when both Old and New Testaments reaffirm Gods use of suffering for a greater purpose (cf. Job and James 1). The call of perseverance echoes the call of resting in the trust of the Lord. The lament that causes one to pray can become the launch pad of praise and confidence.33 There is also a very important reminder to continue exhorting oneself to remember the past deliverances of the Lord. David began Psalm 62 reminding himself of the power of God in which he finds protection and hope. This lesson from his life is used to encourage others in the community of faith to continue remembering Gods faithfulness. An often overlooked but nonetheless significant aspect of Psalm 62 is indicative of many psalms of confidence: the resolution is not apparent. Christians often look for closure in the trials facing them, but this psalm subtlety teaches the resolution in this life is not the point of faith. Confidence in the deliverance from the persecution facing the people of God is found in trusting while moving along in the journey of faith. David never expressed in Psalm 62 the
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Kidner, 242. Wilson, 882. Bullock, 166.

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complete resolution on earth but the reality that God protects His own and He will take any revenge necessary (cf. Deuteronomy 32:35). Finally, the celebration of Gods faithfulness is a source of strength for future testing. The psalmists underlying belief is nothing could shake the confidence God has earned from the people of God. The Lord has demonstrated His faithfulness repeatedly and His people have only cause for celebration for deliverance that has been, is happening, or will come in the future.34 This hope is worth making tangible in worship of the Lord as my soul find rest in God (Psalm 62:1).

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Brueggemann, 152.

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Bibliography Bratcher, Robert G. and William David Reyburn. A Translator's Handbook on the Book of Psalms. Helps for translators. New York: United Bible Societies, 1991. Brown, Francis, Samuel Rolles Driver and Charles Augustus Briggs. Enhanced Brown-DriverBriggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. electronic ed. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 2000. Brueggemann, Walter. The Message of the Psalms. Augsburg OT Series. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1984. Bullock, C. Hassell. Encountering the Book of Psalms: A Literary and Theological Introduction. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2001. Kidner, Derek. Psalms 1-72. Tyndale OT Commentaries14a. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP, 1973. Matthews, Victor Harold, Mark W. Chavalas and John H. Walton. The IVP Bible Background Commentary : Old Testament. electronic ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000. Tate, Marvin E. Vol. 20, Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 51-100. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002. VanGemeren, Willem A. The Expositors Bible Commentary, Volume 5: Psalms, Revised Edition, Frank E. Gaebelein, ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008. Wilson, Gerald H. Psalms, vol. 1. NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002.